ERIC Number: ED226307
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Aug
Reference Count: 0
Problems with the Construct and Measurement of Social Anxiety.
Leary, Mark R.
There has been little agreement regarding appropriate definitions of social anxiety. Many existing definitions are conceptually problematic and these problems have had serious methodological implications. Social anxiety may be defined as anxiety resulting from the prospect or presence of interpersonal evaluation in real or imagined social settings. While it may seem tautological to define anxiety as anxiety, previous definitions have behavioral responses as defining characteristics of social anxiety. Since there is not a close or necessary relationship between social anxiety and interpersonal behavior (many people are able to maintain a false composure in spite of subjectively experiencing anxiety), these concepts should be defined independently and their relationship empirically established. In addition to conceptual problems, definitions of social anxiety based on specific behaviors raise methodological and measurement issues. Since social anxiety and behavior are not perfectly correlated, questions about respondents' behaviors as measures of anxiety levels are ineffective. To combat this problem, a self-report measure of social anxiousness with items assessing subjectively experienced anxiety, not behaviors, has been developed; the measure includes two subscales, one for face-to-face social anxiety (interaction anxiousness) and one for anxiety experienced in contingent encounters (audience anxiousness). The scales have been shown to possess high inter-item and test-retest reliability. (A copy of this Social Anxiousness Scale is appended.) (MCF)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Social Anxiety
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (90th, Washington, DC, August 23-27, 1982).